EASLEY—The Easley basketball season recently wrapped up an eventful holiday season with back-to-back second place tournament finishes.
Looking back on six games in nine days, Easley Coach Grant Stallard said there were some lessons to be learned.
“You walk out every time expecting to win,” Stallard said. “This team is used to winning and has won a lot of games. When we go to any tournament, we don’t have moral victories. We wanted to win both the tournaments, but I told the kids it will mean a little more, as time goes on, that they reached both championship games.”
Stallard said the game experience should prove crucial down the stretch.
“To get that experience is a big deal,” Stallard said. “It doesn’t seem like a lot right now because of the disappointment in losing, but we lost to some good teams. We’ve played some of the best ball of the year throughout the Christmas holiday.”
The biggest thing his team needs to work on, according to Stallard, is starting strong.
“We’ve learned that you have to throw that first punch,” Stallard said. “In the championship game in Kentucky, we got punched. You’ve got to bring the intensity from the first quarter. The first couple of quarters usually decide the game, and when you’re playing on the road you can’t fall behind to the home team. You’re not going to walk out there and beat somebody just because you won last night.”
Looking towards the bulk of region play in January, Stallard said he feels good about his team.
“We’re playing better and I feel good about going into the region,” Stallard said. “The region is tougher than it has been in years past. We’ve added Hillcrest and JL Mann, and Greenville County schools usually excel in basketball.”
Easley opens region play today (Jan. 4) at Greenwood, and Stallard said he hopes his team will get a much-needed win after a short break.
“We’ve got to go on the road to Greenwood, which is always a tough game,” Stallard said. “You want to get that first game back. I always want to win the last game before Christmas break and win the first game back. We’ve got to get on a streak here and see what happens.”
Tip-off at Greenwood is set for 7:30 p.m.